Friday, February 06, 2009

Lehigh Weekend: Grace and Stabler Rock With Patriot League Foes

Normally I'd do a much more thorough job of this, but considering I've been busy with football recruiting news all week (and not to mention the day job), I'm only going to do a quick preview of this weekend's action - though it's going to be quite a weekend.

Start tonight at Turner Arena at Grace Hall, where 19-1 Lehigh will take on Bucknell in a key EIWA battle. While Lehigh is 5-0 lifetime against Bucknell in duals, that hardly means the Mountain Hawks should rest easy: with two nationally-ranked wrestlers, this won't be a cakewalk. Two bouts stand out: No. 15-ranked junior 149 lb Matt Fisk takes on No. 20 ranked David Marble, and No. 12-ranked junior 165 lb Mike Galante takes on No. 14 Andy Rendos, while junior 184 lb David Craig attempts to add to his No. 9 overall ranking by knocking out unranked David Thompson.

Next up, the 17-5 Lady Hawks (Real Time RPI: 91) will be competing at American at 4:00 p.m. in what could be their toughest test of the year. The 15-7 Eagles (Real Time RPI: 113) are sitting in second place in the Patriot League standings behind the Lady Hawks, and a win here by Lehigh, their third straight road game, could send a message to the rest of the league who the top team is. While sophomore G Erica Prosser has continued to be extremely impressive (14.9 ppg), senior G Erica Ross' emergence the past few weeks (with 20 points against Holy Cross last weekend) gives teams second thoughts about triple-teaming Prosser. This one, without a doubt, will be a great game - and for those of you who have ESPNU, there's an extra treat, as the Lady Hawks will be on national TV on "El Ocho".

Finally at 7:00 p.m. at Stabler Arena, the Lehigh men play against American, which in this reporter's opinion is a game they must have in order to be a factor in the Patriot League tournament. Junior G Marquis Hall, who recently got academic all-District honors, and junior F Zahir Carrington have gotten their points and their rebounds, but it's the bench that has needed to step up for the Mountain Hawks, especially late in the game - against Holy Cross, they only scored seven points in the last six minutes en route to a double-digit loss.

While 13-8 Lehigh (Real Time RPI: 228) has a good record, looking objectively at their record, they've only beaten one team with an RPI below 150 - that's their shocking victory over Rutgers in November. A win over 14-7 American (Real Time RPI: 89) would be not only a win over a quality RPI team - it could be the confidence booster that makes Lehigh a contender.

Lehighsports.com has all the action online. If you get MASN, the Lehigh/American game is also available on that channel as well.

BREAKING: Lafayette Offensive Coordinator Joins Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern

As a player on Northwestern, I was always very, very fond of Pat Fitzgerald as a middle linebacker for the Wildcats. Now I have another reason to be fond of him: Fitzgerald, the head coach of the Wildcats, just hired Lafayette's offensive coordinator, Bob Heffner from the Leopards' staff. Yes, the man I had nightmares about from November 2004 to the third weekend in November last year is now on Northwestern's staff.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that Bob, his wife Nancy and their three daughters, Katie, Molly and Shelby, have decided to join our Northwestern football family," said Fitzgerald. "I had the opportunity to work with Bob when I was a graduate assistant at Maryland and am excited to bring his nearly 30 years of coaching experience to Evanston. He is a great teacher who has worked with some tremendous coaches and programs during his career.

"Bob also brings a wealth of Northeast recruiting ties to our program and he will lead our recruiting efforts in that part of the country. He is just a great addition to our staff.


Pat, consider it an honor that I, as a Lehigh fan, is equally as thrilled that you've hired Heffner. Congratulations to Heffner, and may he do a great job over in Illinois.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Signing Day Gives Us... Old Spice?

As is the custom in the Patriot League, Lehigh did not release their list of recruits on "Signing day" (even though my running tally of confirmed Lehigh commits is thirteen). That didn't, however, prevent two local athletes from penning "letters of understanding" to Lehigh yesterday.

The Morning Call ran an article about Northhampton High School LB Billy Boyko's announcement that he will be suiting up as a Mountain Hawk this summer:

''As a kid, I always dreamed of being a [mechanical] engineer and Lehigh's the perfect place for me,'' Boyko said. ''It's a great program and I'm looking forward to winning some Patriot League championships with them. I used to go over there and watch their games a lot when I was a kid. I'm real excited.''

''Billy's a blue-collar kid who does anything that's asked of him,'' coach Bob Steckel said. ''Since last year, he's said 'Lehigh, Lehigh, Lehigh.' He also was impressed with Lafayette, but Lehigh's always been No. 1 with him because of the engineering and he's going to have a very good fit there.''
The Scranton Times also added some comments from incoming Abington Heights High School OL Collin Bremer:

“This process started over a year ago, and you talk to so many coaches and you visit different schools,” Bremer said. “It’s nice to know where my future is going to be.

“I know Lehigh is a good school for me.”


While I tried in vain to get any pictures of RB Zach Barket's signing ceremony in Schuykill Haven High school, his amazing performance in the Anthracite Conference this past year helped him get some national recognition today: a full-page ad in the USA Today recognized Barket as one of fifty players nationally as Old Spice Red Zone Players of the Year. To refresh your memory, Barket had 66 touchdowns and 4,195 rushing yards in his senior season.

Meanwhile, Lafayette announced their incoming class of 17 recruits. Fans appear to be divided as to the meaning of the (relatively) smaller size of this class over years past (and head coach Frank Tavani alluded to it in the Express-Times's coverage) - some feel like it's no big deal, but others were disappointed.

While coach Tavani said that it was possible that they might "pick up another guy or two", there are still some impressive names in the class. The Morning Call goes into more detail: for example, RB Vaughn Hebron is the son of the former Philadelphia Eagle RB; DE Tahir Basil is one highly-touted player that went to Lafayette that Lehigh also coveted; and OL Mike Murphy and Tyler Swoyer, who were the linemen who paved the way for Barket's 66 touchdowns at Schuykill Haven.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Your Patriot League Commit Tracker

With "Signing Day" set to go tomorrow for football recruits all throughout the nation, considering how popular it has been I've set up a blog posting for the sole purpose of listing, well, everything I know about commits for Patriot League football. Keep in mind that tomorrow few schools - probably only Lafayette - will announce their incoming class in the entire Patriot League, as most schools wait several weeks before making a formal announcement.

Many of these were taken from my previous blog postings on this subject. For Lehigh, you can click on the player to return to my original blog posting on the player. But keep coming back often since I'm planning on updating this well into signing day. While the schools tend to be conservative, I'm not - I'll publish any nugget of information I have.

(For reference, to read my explanation of the difference between what the "Letter of Intent" is for most schools and the difference between the Patriot League's "Letter of Understanding" and the Ivy League's "Likely Letter"'s, click here.)

(As I mentioned, come back early and often for the most complete list of Patriot League commits listed anywhere. I will be updating this as soon as I get any new information.)

Lehigh Commits:

RB Zach Barket (Schuylkill Haven HS, PA), Lehigh
DE Tom Bianchi (West Essex HS, NJ), Lehigh
DL/TE William Boyko (Northampton HS, PA), Lehigh
OL/DL Collin Bremer (Abington Heights HS, PA), Lehigh
DT Sajjad Chagani (Sewanhaka HS, NY), Lehigh
WR Dan Cintron (Barnegat HS, NJ), Lehigh
QB Mike Colvin (Morristown HS, NJ), Lehigh
WR/CB James Flynn (Notre Dame HS, CA), Lehigh offer on table - confirmed
LB Jordan Jefferson (Palo Alto HS, CA), Lehigh
RB Mike Hanhauser (Perry HS, OH), Lehigh
QB Mason Mills (Coronado HS, CA), Lehigh
P Jake Peery (Archbishop Curley, MD), Lehigh
WR Marvin Pierre (Pine Crest HS, FL), Lehigh
WR/DB Devin Pullara (Araphoe HS, CO), Lehigh (may also play lacrosse)
OL/DL Thomas Ruley (Parkville HS, MD), Lehigh
WR/DB Ryan Spadola (Freehold Township HS, NJ), Lehigh
OL Mike Vuono ( North Allegheny HS, PA), Lehigh
OL/DL Ryan Weitz (East Lake HS, FL), Lehigh

Other Patriot League School Commits:

DE Tahir Basil (Roman Catholic HS, PA), just verballed for Lafayette
LB/FB Peter Bross (Parkland HS, PA), Lafayette
RB Alan Elder (Gonzaga HS, DC), Lafayette
QB/DB/K D.J. Forbargd (Camden HS, NY), Lafayette
RB Vaughn Hebron (Dover Area HS, PA), Lafayette
DL Rick Lyster (Ocean HS, NJ), Lafayette
DB Eric Jones (Plantation HS, FL), Lafayette
DT Jason Marshalek (Montoursville HS, PA), Lafayette
TE/LB Zach Midulla (JR Tucker HS, VA), Lafayette
OL/DL Mike Murphy (Schuylkill Haven HS, PA), Lafayette
LB Zach Protin (Lakeland HS, NJ), Lafayette
DB/RB Kyni Scott (Pine Bush HS, NY), Lafayette
QB Andrew Shoop (Danville HS, PA), Lafayette
P/W Ethan Swerdlow (La Jolla HS, CA), Lafayette
OL/DL Tyler Swoyer (
Schuylkill Haven HS, PA), Lafayette
DB Neal Zott (Almont HS, MI), Lafayette

DE Amir Afkhami (Wooton HS, DC), Bucknell
DE Scott Brimmer (East Strousburg South HS, PA), reportedly considering Bucknell
LB Julian Davis (Gateway HS, MO), Bucknell
DE/TE Matt Diles (Chagrin Falls HS, OH), Bucknell
RB Terrance Fitzsimmons (Haverford HS, PA), Bucknell
S Joseph Francis (Arlington Seguin HS, TX), Bucknell
DL Nick Gatto (Catholic HS, NC), reportedly considering Bucknell
OL Devin Gordon-Hamm (Good Counsel HS, MD), Bucknell
OL Greg Herman (Wachtung Hills HS, NJ), Bucknell
OL Josh Haywood (Barberton HS, OH), Bucknell
QB/P Kyle Hoppy (Orchard Park HS, NY), Bucknell (also will play baseball)
OL Brandon Morris (Cumberland Park HS, PA), Bucknell
QB Andrew Lieberman (Portland HS, ME), Bucknell offer on table
RB/DB Robert Owoyele (Arlington Seguin HS, TX), Bucknell
DE Sam Oyekoya (Gonzaga HS, DC), Bucknell
WR Brandon Pinnock (Northeast HS, FL), Bucknell
RB Tyler Smith (North Penn HS, PA), Bucknell
OL Chis Spahr (Red Bank Catholic, NJ), Bucknell
OL/DL Troy Steinhilber (Pittsford Sutherland HS, NY), Bucknell
LB Colton Weaver (Wilson Area HS, PA), Bucknell
DE Jon Wagner (Wilson Area HS, PA), Bucknell
RB Jeremiah Young (Steelton-Highspire HS, PA), Bucknell

DB Omar Auais (Dade Christian HS, FL), Colgate
RB Jamar Brown (South Broward HS, FL), Colgate
OL/DT Craig Capodiferro (Locust Valley HS, NY), Colgate
K/P Evan Colborne (Hillsborough HS, FL), Colgate
OL Tyler Danielsen (Sayreville HS, NJ), Colgate
LB Austin Dier (Olympia HS, FL), Colgate
DL Evan Goldzack (Evan Collier HS, FL), Colgate
LB Pat Friel (St. Charles East HS, IL), Colgate
K/P Andy Heagel (East Syracuse HS, NY), Colgate
OL Chris Horner (Del Val HS, PA), Colgate
WR/RS Ryan Kramer (Oneida HS, NY), Colgate
WR Chris Looney (Verona HS, NJ), Colgate
DB Jonathan Mputu (Winter Park HS, FL), Colgate
LB/TE Jim Queeney (Reading HS, MA), Colgate (may play lacrosse)
OL Ryan Risch (Kittaninning HS, NY), Colgate
FB/DB Dan Saita (Del Val HS, PA), Colgate
DB John Schademan (Bethel Park HS, PA), Colgate
RB Eddy Sihavong (Mission Hills HS, CA), Colgate
TE/LB Ryan Sitler (Berwick HS, PA), Colgate
DB Jason Taylor (Barrington HS, IL), Colgate
OL/DL Adam Wheeler (Cardinal Mooney HS, OH), Colgate
TE/DE Xavier Molina-Williams (Diamond Ranch HS, CA), Colgate
RB/S Mike Yeager (St Joe's Prep HS, PA), Colgate

LB Dan Avedesian (State College Area HS, PA), Fordham
QB James Avedesian (State College Area HS, PA), Fordham
RB/DB Paul Barchitta (Monsignor Farrell HS, NY), Fordham
DB Zach Crosby (Jefferson HS, GA), Fordham
DL Billy DeLuca (Greenwich HS, CT), Fordham
K Kevin Heinowitz (Indian Hills HS, NJ), Fordham
QB Ben Heiser (Walnut Hills HS, OH), Fordham
QB Ryan Higgins (Chaminade HS, NY), Fordham
OL Jim Kubacki (Andover Academy, MA), Fordham (originally from Eastside Catholic HS, WA)
AB Langston LaCroix (New Egypt HS, NJ), Fordham
DL J.T. LaSure (Cavalry Christian HS, FL), Fordham
OL Alex Locker (Lake Worth HS, FL), Fordham
LB Anthony Lubischer (Red Bank Catholic, NJ), Fordham
RB Michael Martin (Seguin HS, TX), Fordham
WR Aaron Mays (Chaffey CC, CA), Fordham
WR/S Brendan Melanophy (Danbury HS, CT), Fordham
OL/DL Andrew Milmore (Warde HS, CT), Fordham
CB Khary Powell (Central Gwinnett HS, GA), Fordham
OL/DL Chris Watkins (Carmel HS, NY), Fordham

[UPDATE: Worthy of mention is that redshirt freshman Delaware QB Lou Ritaccio, who almost beat out Ohio State transfer Rob Schoenhoft, is rumored to be considering a transfer to Fordham. He'd have to sit out a year, but would become the immediate frontrunner for the QB job in 2010.]

WR Jeffrey Burke (St. Edward HS, OH), Georgetown
OL Sarafino Caliguire (Montour HS, PA), Georgetown
TE/FB/LB Janna Chukumerije (New Rochelle HS, NY), Georgetown
TE Jordan Cohen (Cooper City HS, FL), Georgetown
WR Brandon Floyd (Loyola HS, MD), Georgetown
WR Kenneth Furlough (Brother Rice HS, IL), Georgetown
DB/DB Ian Gaston (Toledo St. John's HS, OH), Georgetown
FS Jeffery Gazaway (Buford HS, GA), Georgetown
WR/LB Jeremy Grasso (Bergen Catholic HS, NJ), Georgetown
RB Brian Head (Heritage HS, TX), Georgetown
LB Mose Hogan (Detroit County Day School, MI), Georgetown
DT/OL Jonathan Koslop (Hazelton Area HS, PA), Georgetown (another report on Koslop)
DE Andy Maliska (Palo Alto HS, CA), Georgetown
LB Rob McCabe (Malvern Prep, PA), Georgetown
TE Craig Montgomery (Cardinal Mooney HS, FL), Georgetown
DE Connor Randall (Holy Innocents HS, GA), Georgetown
DE Andrew Sachais (Buford HS, GA), Georgetown
OL Kevin Sullivan (Bergen Catholic HS, NJ), Georgetown
OL Trip Watson (A.C. Flora HS, SC), Georgetown

RB Reed Apfelbaum (Upper St. Clair HS, PA), Holy Cross
RB Sam Auffant (Phillips Andover Academy, MA), Holy Cross
RB Anthony Blake (Portland Jesuit HS, OR), Holy Cross
LB/TE Hank Brigham (St. Andrews Episcopal School, TX), Holy Cross
LB Pat O'Connell (Framingham HS, MA), Holy Cross
QB Grant Enders (Old Mill HS, MD), Holy Cross
SS Kevin Gallagher (Mainland Regional HS, NJ), Holy Cross
TE Josh Hauser (Bishop Lynch HS, TX), Holy Cross
RB Eddie Houghton (St. Michael's HS, Toronto, Canada), Holy Cross
OL Fred Hilow (St Edward HS, OH), Holy Cross
LB David Herman (St. Xavier HS, OH), Holy Cross
WR Jack Karlovec (Chagrin Falls HS, OH), Holy Cross
OL Billy Lang (Archbishop Spalding HS, MD), Holy Cross
WR/DB James Lizzotte (St. John's (S), MA), Holy Cross
OL Jack Malishka (Murdock HS, MA), Holy Cross
QB/S Tom Mannix (Brearly HS, NJ), Holy Cross
WR Gerald Mistretta (Xavierian HS, NY), Holy Cross
OL/LB Pat O'Connell (Framingham HS, MA), Holy Cross
RB Colin Reno (Choate Rosemary Prep, NY), Holy Cross
OL Kyle Pedretty (Dunedin HS, FL), Holy Cross
LB Roman San Doval (Shady Side Academy, PA), Holy Cross
LB Erik Wachter (Hunterdon Central HS, NJ), Holy Cross

Monday, February 02, 2009

Weekend Wrapup: Lehigh Women Cross Off the 'Cross

The Lady Hawks can cross another thing off of their "bucket list": beating Holy Cross at the Hart Center.

It went down to the very end - and two huge defensive stops at the end of the game - but Sue Troyan's squad held on for a gutty 72-70 win in a venue where Lehigh has been 2-18 (now 3-18) lifetime. Balanced scoring - and, yes, unselfish play - has allowed the Lady Hawks to soar to sole possession of first place in the Patriot League.

The Lady Hawks soared to a 6-0 lead, thanks to a pair of treys from junior G Alex Ross (whe ended the afternoon with a game-high 20 points and 7 rebounds) and appeared on their way to a laugher while jumping to a 13 point halftime lead. Sophomore G Erica Prosser failed to break double digits for the first time for what seems like forever - clearly Holy Cross made it a point to pressure her all game - but she responded with 9 assists, including a huge one to senior G Tricia Smith (11 points, 4 rebounds) with 30 seconds to play to increase the lead to 3 points.

17-5 Lehigh (Real Time RPI: 91) now enjoys a week of rest before the final game of their brutal three-game road trip at American.

*****

On the men's side, Lehigh hung tough with a physical Holy Cross team that brought full-court pressure almost the entire game. For about 30 minutes Lehigh hung tough - but finally wilted in front of the onslaught. Tied at 42 with 10 minutes to play, Holy Cross would hold Lehigh to 10 points the rest of the way in a 67-52 defeat in Stabler.

Junior G Marquis Hall led Lehigh with 14 points, but also turned over the ball four times (Lehigh as a team turned over the ball 16 times):

''It was tough,'' Hall said. ''We just didn't execute well down the stretch and they just continued to get baskets.''

''In those situations we just have to be able to come up with stops, and then execute down on our end in order to put ourselves in a position to win. They hit us kind of quick.''

Once again, junior F Zahir Carrington came up big for the Mountain Hawks with 9 points and 11 boards, while sophomore G Rob Keefer also added 7 rebounds on an afternoon where Lehigh would nab 37 rebounds. But aside from Carrington and Hall, no Lehigh hoopster would score more than 6 points on the afternoon - a recipie for a loss against the first-place team in the Patriot League.

13-8 Lehigh (Real Time RPI: 221) will have plenty to prove this coming weekend when defending Patriot League champion American comes to Stabler. Win that game, and Lehigh could prove to be a factor in this Patriot League title race. Lose, and the story of the 2008 Mountain Hawks may very well be set as a team that doesn't has the depth, consistency or physicality to finish basketball games.
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